LADY AT THE BAT: Home Field Advantage In The 2015 World Series: How It Could Happen For The Yankees

Friday, July 17, 2015

Home Field Advantage In The 2015 World Series: How It Could Happen For The Yankees

No sooner had the American League finished off their National League rivals in Tuesday's 2015 All Star Game did the posts and tweets start: The Yankees just won home field advantage in this year's World Series.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but for the moment let's assume the Yankees are the team of destiny for 2015. What path will they have to take to number 28 that is at least somewhat realistic? And what happens if there is a game seven at Yankee Stadium? That's what the All Star Game was all about according to the MLB ads leading up to the game. Home field in game seven was the big prize, they said.  So, what do the Yankees have to do to take advantage of home field? Also, what have they done in game seven in the World Series over the years? 
The Second Half and The Postseason
The good news is the that Yankees have 41 of their final 74 games in the Bronx. They play three teams, Minnesota, Cleveland and the White Sox, that they have not met so far in 2015. There are six remaining interleague games, all of which are on the road: the Mets at Citi Field and the Braves in Atlanta, which means no Alex Rodriguez in the lineup. Most important are the remaining games within the division. The Yankees will meet their four AL East rivals in 39 of the final 74 games with a whopping 13 games still to be played with Toronto. Going 42-30 against that schedule would mean the Yankees finish at 92-70, which may be enough to prevail in their division in 2015. It worked in 1996 and seems very attainable this year.
No reason to believe the Yankees will give up their lead in the AL East, but there is nothing to suggest that Kansas City will fall behind in total wins. If that is the case, the Royals will meet the winner of the wild card game while the Yankees will meet the AL West winner, either Houston or the Angels. The Yankees have not had much playoff success against the Angels, except in 2009. This year the Yankees won four of six contests with the Angels. Let's say we take down the Angels in four games. The ALCS would then feature the Yankees and either Kansas City or the wild card winner. The wild card has done well in recent seasons, including last year, so Kansas City may be vulnerable, but I say the Royals will escape with a win in five games.. The Yankees had their way with the Royals going 4-2 overall this season.  The Yankees would win it in six. 
So now the Yankees are in the World Series and have split the first six games and face a game seven against one of five teams (no reason right now to expand the list beyond five teams except for possibly the Giants) Take your pick among division leaders Washington, St Louis and Los Angeles. They all look to be playoff bound at this point,  Wild card teams, Pittsburgh and Chicago also seem like formidable playoff teams at the moment. So it's game seven against one of the aforementioned teams at Yankee Stadium and the All Star  game win is paying huge dividends for the AL winning Yankees.

A History of Game Sevens
The Yankees have been to a lot of game sevens. How many of them have the Yankees won at home, in all of their 27 championships?
Exactly, one.
In 1947 they beat Brooklyn in game seven at Yankee Stadium. Now, the Yankees have played 11 game sevens in the World Series. (Twelve, if you count 1921 which went eight games because that series was a best of nine.) So, of the eleven series ending game sevens, the Yankees won five and lost six. Four of the wins happened on the road, at the '52 and '56 Dodgers, at the '58 Braves, and at the '62 Giants. Among the six losses are the two walk off losses at Pittsburgh with Mazeroski in '60 and in the  Arizona desert in '01.  
So there you have it. A glimpse at what may happen if the Yankees were to take full advantage of their "home field advantage" which the American League All Stars fought hard to win for a team in their league. We hope that team is the Yankees. So, is history on the side of the Yankees in their quest to fulfill the promise of a home field opportunity to win in game seven this year?
Let's hope that, as it was in 1947, it is in 2015.


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